Taiwan travel guide
Sitting pretty as one of Asia’s best-kept travel secrets, the spicy, scenic island of Taiwan makes a habit of smashing visitor preconceptions.
Outsiders tend to see this country as notable only for its technological prowess – an image reinforced by the global prominence of ‘Made in Taiwan’ stickers – but in reality this is a destination that serves up awe-inspiring panoramas, a rainbow of different cultures and a startlingly rich history.
Alongside night markets, cycle trails and hot springs, there are gleaming skyscrapers, hulking mountains and sparkling lakes. When you factor in the manageable size of the island, which is less than half the size of Scotland, the appeal becomes even more significant.
Taiwan is one of the few places on Earth where ancient religious and cultural practices still thrive in an overwhelmingly modernist landscape. This juxtaposition is expressed most clearly in Taipei, where futuristic marvels like Taipei 101 – one of the tallest buildings in the world – share the city with incense-fogged temples and indigenous communities.
This mix of different influences is wonderfully showcased by the island’s cuisine – a lip-smacking blend of Chinese, Japanese and aboriginal fare.
Like many aspects of life in Taiwan, its diverse cuisine makes sense when you look at the island’s history. Following five decades of Japanese rule, in 1949 a liberated Taiwan became a refuge for the Chinese Nationalist Party and their supporters, who fled here during the Chinese Civil War. To this day, Taiwan remains a product of this period – a maverick sovereign state still viewed with uneasiness by Beijing.
History buff or not, there’s much to enjoy in Taiwan. Away from the sleek towers of the cities, it’s the valleys, lakes and gorges of the countryside that tend to leave the greatest impression. The fact that comparatively few tourists make it here is more to do with a lack of awareness than a lack of things to do – hikers, cyclists, divers, surfers, pilgrims and gourmands will all find a little slice of heaven in this corner of Asia.
36,188 sq km (13,972 sq miles).
23,395,600 (UN estimate 2016).
647 per sq km.
President Tsai Ing-wen since 2016.
Premier Su Tseng-chang since 2019.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
The UK does not recognise Taiwan as a state and has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan, so limited consular services are available to British nationals. Please refer to the British Office in Taipei for further information.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:
- advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
- information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Taiwan set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Taipei Representative Office in London or the Taipei Representative Office in Edinburgh. Entry procedures are being regularly reviewed, so may change at short notice.
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Taiwan.
Epidemic prevention period
When you arrive in Taiwan, the authorities advise that you observe a 7-day self-initiated epidemic prevention period, starting on the day you arrive.
You can use your booked accommodation and you can move freely during the 7 days as long as you wear a mask and do not socialise with vulnerable people.
Passport validity requirements
To enter Taiwan, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the day you arrive.
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.
You can spend up to 90 days in Taiwan without a visa. You can extend this by a further 90 days once you have arrived in Taiwan. You can get more information on entering Taiwan without a visa (‘visa-exempt entry’) from the Taiwan Bureau of Consular Affairs. This applies if you travel:
- as a tourist
- to visit family or friends
- to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events
If you plan to stay in Taiwan for longer than 180 days, you must have a visa before you arrive. If you stay beyond the time given on your visa, you will get a fine and risk being deported from Taiwan.
There are specific rules for naturalised British citizens born in the People’s Republic of China and holders of British National (Overseas) passports wishing to enter under the visa waiver scheme.
Applying for a visa
Alien Resident Certificate and Alien Permanent Resident Certificate holders
If you already hold a resident certificate, you do not need a visa to enter Taiwan.
If you hold a Youth Mobility Scheme visa for Taiwan, you can apply to switch to a working visa or a visa to study a degree course at undergraduate level or higher.
Submit your application to the Bureau of Consular Affairs for consideration. You can then apply for an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) at your local National Immigration Agency (NIA) Service Center once your application has been approved. Contact the Bureau of Consular Affairs or National Immigration Agency for further information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Taiwan guide.
There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Taiwan. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty. Contact the Customs Administration for further information.
Do not bring animal products into Taiwan without authorisation. If you are caught with any animal products, you may face a heavy fine. Customs officials have increased inspections due to concerns about African Swine Fever Virus in pork products, particularly from the People’s Republic of China.
Bringing money into Taiwan
Declare cash or travellers cheques if the value is higher than 100,000 New Taiwan Dollar (NTD) or 10,000 US dollars. You will get a certified declaration to show you brought it in with you. If you do not, your money could be seized when you leave. Contact the Customs Administration for further information.
International bank transfers can be slow. Most of the ATMs in 7-11 stores accept international cards. Other ATMs may accept them, but not all do.
American Express, Citibank and Thomas Cook branches accept their own-brand travellers cheques. You may need your receipt as well as your passport when you cash them.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Taiwan
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Taiwan, attacks cannot be ruled out.
Advance fee frauds
Fraudsters often send letters, faxes and emails to individuals and companies in the UK and elsewhere. They offer large sums of money if the recipient sends various ‘advance fees’ to Taiwanese bank accounts. The fraudsters are not specifically targeting recipients. They get contact details from telephone or commercial directories.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) investigates advance fee frauds in the UK. Do not reply to this type of communication. The NCA website has more information.
Laws and cultural differences
Illegal drugs and penalties
Avoid any involvement with illegal drugs, including cannabis, while in Taiwan. Drug laws are stricter than in the UK. Legal definitions of supply or trafficking may be different from in the UK, including the quantities of drugs involved. If you’re found guilty of smuggling, trafficking, possession or use of illegal narcotics, you can expect to get a severe prison sentence or, in some cases, the death penalty.
Taiwan has some of Asia’s most progressive policies on LGBT+ rights and discrimination on the grounds of gender and gender identity is illegal. Taiwan’s Pride parade, held annually in October, is the largest regular LGBT+ event in Asia, attracting high numbers of participants from the region and internationally.
Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.
If you are planning to drive in Taiwan, see information on driving abroad.
You need a 1949 international driving permit (IDP) as well as a UK driving licence to drive in Taiwan. You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel. You can buy an IDP in person from some UK post offices – find your nearest post office branch that offers this service.
Once in Taiwan, you will need to take your passport, IDP and a passport photograph to a local Motor Vehicles Office to get your IDP validated. Your validated IDP will last up to 12 months.
If you stay longer, you will need to get a new IDP and get it validated. Or you can exchange your UK driving licence for a Taiwan driving licence at a Motor Vehicles Office. The British Office in Taipei cannot provide support on individual applications.
If you do not want to exchange your UK driving licence, you can take a local driving test to get a Taiwan driving licence.
Driving standards and road rules
Roads and vehicles are well-maintained, but scooters and motorcycles often weave in and out of traffic. Be alert when crossing roads as vehicles might not stop at pedestrian crossings.
The alcohol limit for drivers in Taiwan is about a quarter of that in England. If you drive while over the limit, you may get a heavy fine and possible imprisonment. If you are a passenger, you may also be fined.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
If there is a typhoon or an earthquake, check the Taiwanese authorities’ websites for public announcements and details of which roads, schools and office buildings have been closed:
The typhoon season in Taiwan normally runs from May to November. There’s a risk of road blockages and landslides after typhoons, especially in central and southern Taiwan.
See our tropical cyclones page for advice about how to prepare effectively and what to do if you’re likely to be affected by a hurricane or typhoon (tropical cyclone).
Taiwan lies in a seismically active zone and tremors are recorded throughout the year. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has guidance about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
Taipei City Government have created a online digital booklet with useful information on how to keep safe during an earthquake, typhoon and other types of natural and man-made disasters.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Call 119 and ask for an ambulance.
Unlike in the UK, an ambulance crew will not usually include a paramedic.
Contact your insurance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
- the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Taiwan guide
- where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
There has been a significant increase in cases of dengue fever in the south of Taiwan (including the cities of Kaohsiung and Tainan). Take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. See key updates from the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
If you’re bringing any prescribed medicine into Taiwan, bring the prescription issued by your doctor, hospital or clinic that shows the medicine is for your personal use. The amount of medication you bring must be consistent with the amount stated on the prescription. You cannot bring cannabis oil or cannabis-derived medication into Taiwan, even if it’s legally prescribed elsewhere.
For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, contact the Taipei Representative Office in London.
Healthcare facilities in Taiwan
Taiwan’s health and dental facilities offer a range of routine, emergency and outpatient services. Some have English-speaking staff. Hospitals operate on a ’pay as you use’ basis. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment in Taiwan including possible repatriation.
FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Taiwan.
There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Taiwan.
Taiwan Centers for Disease Control says that if you test positive for COVID-19 and have mild symptoms you do not need to report your case or self-isolate. You should rest at home and wear a mask when outside. Seek medical care if you experience severe symptoms. You can contact the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control helpline on 1922.
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Taiwan
Ambulance and fire: 119
Domestic abuse and sexual assault hotline: 113
Any further assistance: 0800 024 111 (‘Information for Foreigners in Taiwan’ helpline)
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers, funeral directors and translators and interpreters in Taiwan.
- dealing with a death in Taiwan
- being arrested or imprisoned in Taiwan
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis, such as a terrorist attack
You can also contact FCDO online.
Help abroad in an emergency
The UK does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The British Assistance and Services Section of the British Office in Taipei can provide certain limited consular assistance. In cases of genuine emergency, the British Office may be able to issue you with an emergency travel document.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)
Risk information for British companies
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.